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Steelers Analysis

Could the Steelers Sign J.J. Watt after Cam Heyward Injury?



Steelers J.J. Watt
HOUSTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 15: Houston Texans defensive end JJ Watt (99) paces the sideline during the football game between the Houston Texans and Jacksonville Jaguars at NRG Stadium on September 15, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Daniel Dunn/Icon Sportswire)

The Steelers will lose Cam Heyward for up to eight weeks following a groin injury that will likely require surgery. If that is true, Heyward will be out until November, likely returning once the Steelers face the Green Bay Packers on November 12th. That is a significant loss for Pittsburgh, and while they have some decent depth, they could look to make a splash move.

However, could that splash move end up with the lone Watt brother who has yet to play in Pittsburgh? J.J. Watt retired after his contract with the Arizona Cardinals ran out this offseason. But certainly, one of the calls the Steelers will make is to check up on what Watt is doing right now. Earlier this week, Watt regretted not playing with his brothers.

“There’s definitely a part of me that wishes I could’ve played with them…It would have been an absolute dream come true to play with all three of us on the same team,” Watt said.

For what it is worth, however, once Watt retired earlier this offseason, he immediately noted that he would not play for the Steelers. Since then, Watt has focused on being a dad and is now a studio analyst for CBS Sports during the NFL season. He has his post-retirement life set up.

“I will not be playing for the Pittsburgh Steelers,” Watt said this offseason.

Watt recently became a part-owner of Burnley F.C., an English soccer team. In other words, he is currently entrenched in the retirement lifestyle. To come out of retirement to play for the Steelers, it is not hard to see that he would likely need some hefty compensation. But the Hail Mary heave could give the Steelers the most long-term for the season. It depends on whether Watt would even be willing to do it and the football shape he is in right now.

Steelers J.J. Watt T.J. Watt

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) gets together with Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt (99), and his brothers Steelers fullback Derek Watt (44), and Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt (90) following an NFL football game in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020. The Steelers won 28-21. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

And yesterday, Watt looked quite comfortable in the studio. Pittsburgh could use that versatile impact player that can play up and down the line. Watt coming out of retirement is an unlikely premise. It is a complete swing for the fences move. The likeliest outcome here is that the Steelers elevate Breiden Fehoko and run out there with guys like Keeanu Benton and DeMarvin Leal more going forward. Armon Watts should earn a helmet and play, too.

Similar to the injury to T.J. Watt last year, though, there was no replacing him. No one can replace Heyward, but the Steelers’ opposite outside linebacker spot on the other side of Alex Highsmith produced little with the younger Watt brother out. It might not be the eldest Watt brother that ends up being the solution to the problems now that Heyward is out, but if Omar Khan is as aggressive as he has been all offseason, another move to sign someone from the outside could very well be coming.

The Watt unretirement scenario seemed unlikely. After playing at a Hall of Fame level, he seems pretty content in retirement. But stranger things have happened, and there is no downside for Pittsburgh to place a phone call to see if he would at all be interested.

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